Music of the spheres: It is a term that refers to the universal harmony generated by celestial bodies in orbit, but it means something different to Arcade Fire’s Richard Reed Parry. His musical spheres are floating worlds, 360° embodiments of memory, VR renditions of old family photos. A collection of songs that moves across two albums, Parry's Quiet River of Dust: Vol. 2 is available now.
“”Long Way Back” is a song about remembering everything you’ve ever lived. Your childhood home, the happy or heavy or beautiful or miserable feelings you ever lived with, the fleeting and pristine random moments of perfection, the infinitely complex tapestry of emotions you feel towards your parents; anything that resides anywhere in those floating worlds that exist inside your mind and your heart, holding all these things up to the light of memory, embracing it all and then letting it go.”
The first volume of Quiet River of Dust was released on the autumn equinox of 2018 and this second volume was created at the same time. It was originally set to come out on the spring equinox but nature had other ideas, as it look longer than expected to wait for salt crystals to grow on the artwork to create wave caps and mountaintops—do not underestimate Parry’s attention to detail.
Both volumes bleed into one another, by design. “It feels like a multi-sided window to me,” says Parry, “a different view into this prismatic song world.” Japanese folk myths, death poems and British folk music are tributaries flowing into a river of late-20th century avant-garde composition and traditional song craft, written and performed by a member of a Grammy-winning rock band. This is a meditative, widescreen musical experience with Beach Boy harmonies and a hypnotic pulse. Layered songs that move in a linear fashion, following a current rather than circular composition.
While the two halves of Quiet River of Dust are meant to represent each side of a metaphysical river, Vol. 2: That Side of the River is more interior, says Parry, dealing with the murky waters of memory and the unconscious mind.
“What separates us from dissolving into the experience around us?” Parry asks. “It’s a feeling I’ve definitely had many times, where the boundaries of self and world are permeable to the point of disorientation. So much of this record is about being this young person in an older people’s world of music and song, this folk music community where the torch is passed, and losing my father at a young age, and being completely disoriented by that. This record, the songs are also referencing that nebulous psychic territory when you lose your most familiar world, when the village of your childhood disappears and you try to relocate yourself in a different one.”